Trafficked teen attempted suicide 16 times after rescue
Open your eyes and beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing. That was the message from Deputy Superintendent Carl Berry, head of the police’s Anti-Trafficking in Persons Unit, as he sought to drive home the point of how vulnerable children are to human traffickers as he addressed scores of primary- and high-school students yesterday.
At the HUSH: Children Symposium, put on by the Institute of Jamaica at its downtown Kingston offices, Berry related the horrors experienced by a 13-year-old girl, who lived on an island off the coast of Haiti.
According to the cop, one grand market night, she, along with her father, took a 45-minute boat ride to the Haitian mainland. While window shopping – as many people do the night before Christmas – they both encountered three Jamaicans, who convinced them of educational opportunities the young girl could take up.
“They were now off on a boat – the three Jamaicans, the father and the child. Twenty-eight minutes exactly on the journey, they killed the father and threw him overboard. The child became totally gripped with fear, so the thought of even jumping overboard escaped her. She followed instructions straight to Jamaica. When she reached, she was taken to Burnt Savannah, St Elizabeth, where she was raped every night for four years.”
The child wasn’t allowed to go anywhere and the abuse took place in one room and under the same roof with a woman and three other children.
“After we rescued her, she tried to kill herself 16 times. She was so ashamed. One man (Rohan Ebanks) got himself 16 years for rape, 14 years for human trafficking, 14 years for facilitating human trafficking, four years for being concerned with the arrangement of human trafficking, and was instructed to pay $3 million to the victim,” Berry said.
He pointed out to The Gleaner that Ebanks lost an appeal to his sentence last year.
He highlighted that there are 16 forms of trafficking, which include sex trafficking, forced labour, domestic servitude, forced marriage and forced begging.
“Just recently we rescued 12 kids from a Corporate Area high school, who were recruited at school by an individual. He took them to Spanish Town and placed them at different points across the parish with pans for them to beg. That man was convicted last year of forced begging,” he told the students.
“Children, vulnerability rests with you. All of you are using social media and very few of you understand how to use it. The recruiters, the paedophiles and traffickers are all operating online, posing as kids. They end up getting your confidence to the point you can be taken away. There is a phenomenon across the world, where people are pulling people down and retaining body parts. One kidney is being sold on the black market for €250, 000,” he told them as he hammered the point home.